Two Decades Later
Jack Kirby died twenty years ago today. And since then — and I know I speak for a lot of people in this capacity — there hasn't been a day when I haven't thought about him, talked about him, answered questions about him and done something that would not have been possible had I not been exposed to him and his work. He was a lovely man and a brilliant man and the older I get, the more I realize how lovely and brilliant he was.
I don't know where it all came from but from this little man with the tough New York accent had idea after idea, concept after concept, insight after insight…and not just about comic books. If you mentioned yogurt strainers to Jack, there was a good chance he'd have something interesting to say about yogurt strainers. And if he didn't, there was a good chance that the next time he saw you, he'd lead off the conversation with an amazing idea concerning yogurt strainers.
Those who never met him sometimes, I think, have a hard time understanding why those of us who did feel as we do about him. After all, to them he was just another good comic book artist, right? Well, not really. Not to take anything away from other great comic book artists but I never met one who could think as large as Kirby or who tried to think as large as Kirby. Every drawing he did, every story he wrote was a part of something much, much bigger.
He was a very kind man and very trusting…too trusting, we all felt at times. He always treated you as an equal even though you never were.
When people hear that I was for a time his assistant, a lot of them think I was there to learn to draw like him. I wasn't, in part because I couldn't; not in a million billion years of practice. But there were things to learn from this man about almost everything else and I was fortunate to maybe grab a small handful of them. I wish he was still around so he could reap some of the financial benefits that his former collaborator has achieved by surviving. I wish he was still around so that every one of you could maybe have the chance to meet him for yourself. And — getting selfish now — I wish he was still around so I could learn even more from him.
We miss you, Jack. And by "we," I mean just about everyone you ever touched, in person or on the page.